A 17-year-old Israeli-Arab girl from the village of Arara received an order to report to the military recruitment office in Tiberius, and she's not alone. The Kol al-Arab newspaper reported last weekend that another young girl, from the village of Jatt received a similar call to the Haifa recruitment office next month.
"When I read it in the paper I thought it was a joke. When I got one myself, I thought it was a mistake." The young girl from Arara told Ynet, "in any case I don't intend to go."
Kol al-Arab reports that for years not a single recruitment order was sent to youths in the 'triangle' – a predominantly Arab region in northern Israel. Not even by accident.
"I was surprised by the letter," says Rafat Wated, a father of one of the girls, "at first I thought it was a mistake but after I checked the details I was even more shocked. I don't know what to do. I intend to speak with the recruitment office and find out the exact details and also demand that they revoke the order. We are Muslim Arabs exempt from military service, I object to this letter and its content. I don't know if the letter is meant to 'test the waters' and I don't know what motive stands behind sending it."
"I categorically oppose any notion of military service, even voluntary from a religious, and moral point of view," added the girl's mother Aaisha, a Swedish native who converted to Islam. "I am an Arab who is proud of my belonging to the Arab and Islamic nation and the Jews have no right to force us to enlist or even send us recruitment orders, even if it is a mistake."
Muhammed Wated, a reporter for Kol al-Arab spoke with Ynet, saying that he believed that "the waters are being tested in preparation for the recruitment of Arabs from the Triangle who enjoy exemption from it now. In my opinion the trend is to recruit the children of couples whose mothers are originally from Europe. There are hundreds of families in the Triangle with European mothers."
Indeed several days later another recruitment order was sent – to an Arab-Muslim girl in Arara. When asked whether she intended to report to the recruitment office she replied: "Recruitment is out of the questions. I wholly reject it. It cannot be that a person is recruited to shoot youths from his own people, who speak his language."
Upon receiving the order the girl and her father came to the Knesset in Jerusalem in the hopes of finding a solution. And indeed National Democratic Assembly Chairman Azmi Bishara was quick to step up to the task and issued an urgent letter to Defense Minister Amir Peretz.
"I was recently surprised to discover that several Arab youths have received recruitment orders. After examining these complaints I have discovered that it is a phenomenon and not an isolated incident or innocent computer error, we're talking about dozens of teenagers from different villages who have received these orders with anger and outrage," wrote MK Bishara in the letter. "As is known," he continues, "Arab citizens are not recruited, are not obligated to enlist and are not called upon to do so, the orders these citizens have received raise the question of whether there has been a change in policy. I therefore turn to you for an explanation of this matter, and ask that you revoke these orders immediately."
The IDF did not comment on this issue.